Exhibition: The Louisiana Purchase

5: The transaction is completed

Napoleon Bonaparte ratified the agreement for the sale of Louisiana in late May 1803 and in late October Congress agreed to its purchase.

It would be wise for this country to pay a million sterling for the transfer of Louisiana from France to America. - Prime Minister Henry Addington

In November Congress also consented to the creation of US$11.25 million bonds. On 16th January 1804 the first tranche of the bonds was handed to Alexander Baring in Washington. Within 30 days of notification of this being received in Paris, which was not until March 1804, the first installment of FF6 million was paid to France by the bankers. But long before this Napoleon had become desperate for funds and in July 1803 the bankers had consented to a FF10 million advance.

His problems were not eased for long and in mid April 1804 agreement was reached for the installment payments, formerly to be spread over 23 months, to be compressed into a matter of days. By late April this had been completed and Barings and Hopes were discharged from their obligations to the French government. But this concession came at a price. The bankers received a further discount of FF1.65 million.

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